As a homeowner, you may be looking into the possibility of installing a residential solar energy system. A good place to start before you invest is to ask yourself if solar panels are worth it in the long run.
Solar incentives, availability of experienced installers, home energy usage, and location affect every situation differently. Nevertheless, solar power systems provide homeowners with a substantial financial benefit through energy savings.
They can also contribute to a cleaner environment by using renewable energy. So, if you want to save the planet and save yourself a good amount of money at the same time, solar panels may just be worth the research and investment.
Are Solar Panels Worth It?
Things To Consider Before Going Solar
If you’re thinking about using solar panels for your home, there are some factors to consider before taking the leap. These are things like your current power usage and whether or not your home meets the right criteria for a solar energy system.
Modern homes are always switched on. With all of the technology and electronics we use, there’s no wonder why we use as much power as we do.
Even when you’re not using an appliance, it is still using electricity. This happens more often than you’d think and leads to a lot of leaked and wasted power.
If you want to switch over to solar power, it’s a good idea to assess the amount of power you’re using on a monthly basis to decide on whether or not it’s worth it for your home - and for your wallet. You can come up with an estimate of your monthly power usage by calculating the combined wattage of all of your electrical appliances or devices, the amount of time you use them each day, and your electricity rates.
For example, if you’re working out a ballpark figure for your 2,000-watt oven and stove, you’ll need to pay attention to how long you use it on a daily basis.
If you use your oven and stove for 3 hours a day, multiply the wattage by 3. So, a 2,000-watt stove x 3 hours a day will give you 6,000 watts a day. Because your power energy costs are charged per kilowatt (kW), you can divide this number by 1,000 to get the number of kilowatts it uses per day (6 kW).
If you’re trying to determine how many kW you use per month, you’ll need to multiply this number by 30. So 6 kW per day x 30 days will equal 180 kW per month.
Now all you need to do is multiply your kW usage by your electricity rates. If your rates are 10 cents per kW, your new calculation will look like this: 180 kW x 0.10 cents = $18. This means that on average, you’re paying $18 a month to use your stove and oven.
It can be helpful to create a checklist of all of the things in your home that use power to operate and do the basic calculations for each item to come up with your projected energy costs.
To make the most out of your solar power system, you’ll need to know a few things about how your home can affect its efficiency.
The first thing to think about is sun exposure. Because solar panels convert sunlight into usable energy, you need to make sure that your panels have enough light exposure.
This means that there should be no trees blocking or shading your solar panels, and they should face either southwest, south, or west to utilize direct sun radiation.
Solar panels can still work well with scattered sunlight, though, so even if you don’t live in one of the sunnier states, you can still make your solar panels work for your home.
The second thing that’s important to consider is the size of your roof if that’s where you’re going to mount your panels.
Bigger roofs have more space to accommodate solar panels, and so they’re better suited for a larger system. That doesn’t mean that smaller roofs can’t have solar panels installed. It just means that you’ll need to look for the most efficient solar panels to make the most of your available space.
It may be helpful for you to consult a solar energy engineer on which solar panels are the best to buy for your roof.
Pros Of Using Solar Panels
- Solar Panels Save You Money
By using solar panels for your home, you can generate your own electricity, which means you can drastically reduce - or even eliminate - your electric bill.
Solar panel systems usually last for at least 25 years, so if you think about it - that’s a lot of money you could save. They also cost very little to maintain, with the average cost of maintenance between $300 and $700 a year.
How much money you save with a solar panel system is largely dependent on the size of your system and the overall cost of your utility bill after getting a system installed versus what you were paying for your monthly power before.
- It Helps To Go Green
Solar power is a clean and renewable source of energy that not only reduces your carbon footprint by minimizing carbon dioxide emissions but can also lower your overall environmental impact.
On average, a household produces up to 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. By installing and using solar energy, you can reduce this amount by up to 3,000 pounds.
Photovoltaic (PV) power has a long history that dates back to scientific experiments in the late 1800s. In 1954, the first PV silicon cell capable of converting solar energy into electrical power was introduced, and by 1983, global PV production had surpassed 21 megawatts.
With proven technology and around 47.1 gigawatts of solar capacity installed in the United States alone, it’s reasonable to conclude that its popularity as a source of clean energy will continue for years to come.
- It Increases The Value Of Your Home
When you’re installing your new solar energy system, it may benefit you to know that homes with solar panels installed sell for more because of the benefit a solar panel system could offer a new potential owner.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires all homes with solar panel systems installed to be assessed, and for the value to be added to the total appraisal of your home. This is only if you are the owner of the system. If you are renting a system you won’t be entitled to the same benefits.
- Solar Energy Systems Work In Any Climate
If you live in a state with a colder climate, you may be worried that solar energy won’t be as effective due to the low levels of sunlight. Luckily, that isn’t actually the case. In cooler conditions, solar panels are actually more efficient since heat increases resistance in a circuit.
While more hours of direct sunlight will help a solar system generate more electricity, modern panels are highly efficient and can create energy even in low light conditions. To achieve the same outcomes as someone in a warmer or sunnier state, someone in a rainy state like Seattle may only require a slightly larger solar system.
Generally, modern solar panels can be used anywhere there is daylight.
Potential Drawbacks Of Using Solar Panels
The cost of purchasing and installing a solar system is relatively expensive. This is because the initial cost of solar panel systems covers the solar panels, inverters, batteries, wiring, and installation of the system.
Once your system has been installed, solar energy can either be used immediately or stored in batteries. These solar batteries, which are utilized in off-grid solar systems, can be charged during the day so that you can use the excess energy at night or during a power outage.
This is an excellent method for utilizing solar energy throughout the day, but it is also extremely costly.
In most circumstances, it’s more cost-effective to use solar energy during the day and draw power from the grid at night. But you can only do this if your system is connected to the grid.
Fortunately, your energy needs are usually higher during the day, so solar energy can meet the majority of them.
There are a number of different types of solar panels available. Each type has a different level of efficiency, durability, reliability, and output.
Contacting your local solar energy engineer or solar panel installation company could help you to understand what to look for in solar panels. These professionals will be able to help you to get a better idea of how each of these aspects affects production.
Good knowledge of your solar panels will help you go a long way in being able to maximize your long-term savings and ensuring you’re happy with your system.
The best solar panels can last for more than 20 years, making high-quality solar energy systems a worthwhile investment for your future.
Cost Of Residential Solar Systems
When it comes to going solar, the upfront expenditures of a solar energy system are usually the most important factor to consider. But looking at the numbers may have some homeowners wondering if solar panels are worth it.
The simple answer is yes. In fact, you may change your mind if you consider the fact that most homeowners can expect to see a return on their solar-powered investment in less than ten years.
In addition, there are several other factors that go into determining the cost of your solar panel installation. So before you make your investment, make sure to know what you’ll need to budget for.
The first thing to think about is the size of the solar system you want to buy. The more electricity you use, the larger the system you'll need. It stands to reason that a bigger system with more panels will cost more than a smaller system with fewer solar panels.
Secondly, you’ll need to look for the most affordable solar panels that you can buy while still keeping quality in mind. It may be tempting to opt for cheaper solar panels to save money on your overall system cost, but investing in the highest-quality equipment you can get from the start will typically result in better long-term savings.
Next, you’ll need to think about the cost of labor. It may not come as a surprise that, even if they're installing identical equipment under the same set of circumstances, solar installers can charge wildly different prices.
The skill levels and warranties of different installers vary, which is why it's important to only hire pre-vetted and highly skilled installers. Or, if you have the know-how and the technical ability, you can also do the installation yourself.
By doing the installation yourself, you can save a large chunk of your initial cost. You can even buy the best solar panel kits for a DIY solar energy system online.
If you’re unsure of the installation process, it’s best to hire a professional to avoid injury or running the risk of voiding the warranty of your product.
Once your system is installed, there are some other costs you’ll have to take into account. One of the most important things to remember is that your solar rates will vary depending on where you live.
Generally, sunnier states have a cheaper price per watt, while cold states have a higher price. That doesn’t mean that living in a warmer state is cheaper, though. Depending on your needs, you may still need a larger and more expensive system.
With rebates and incentives, you can dramatically reduce your solar costs, resulting in significant long-term savings. Solar investment tax credits (ITC) are the best solar incentives because they allow you to deduct up to 26% of installation costs from your federal taxes.
Although there is no cap on how much can be deducted, your personal tax liability will determine whether you can take full advantage of this incentive.
Furthermore, depending on where you live, there may be other local incentives such as state tax credits, cash rebates, solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), and performance-based incentives (PBIs). All together, these can increase your solar savings by up to a whopping 50%.
Funding Your Solar Panel System
There are a number of options when it comes to installing a solar panel system for your home. These include renting solar panels, purchasing your system to own, or even taking out a loan to help you pay for your initial investment.
Solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) are a way to lease solar panels and are a good short-term solution. However, they may not end up being as beneficial as owning your own solar-powered energy system.
Renting solar panels doesn’t require you to put any money down and they can even promise a maintenance-free solution. But there’s a major downside to using a solar system that you don’t own. Using a solar lease or PPA will only save you around 10 to 30% of your utility bill.
This is why the decision to buy or lease solar panels may have a significant impact on your long-term savings.
Generally, you'll be able to save more money with a cash purchase than with any other option. But even with a zero-down solar loan, you may save tens of thousands of dollars.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking:
- Solar Panel Cost
- How to Test Solar Panels
- How Are Solar Panels Rated
- Questions to Ask About Solar Panels
- Why Are Solar Panels So Expensive
- Series or Parallel connecting Solar Panels
- DIY Solar Panel System Installation Guide: Step by Step
- Series or Parallel connecting Solar Panels
- How to Connect Solar Panels to a Battery Bank, Charge Controller, and Inverter
- Flexible Solar Panels vs Rigid Solar Panels: Which Ones Better?